A light on short range optics
The analyst report raised many questions about Light Peak.
Intel has not provided detailed technical information about the spec or its chips for it. There is no independent work group or standards effort around it. And the USB Implementers Forum is apparently not developing any support for Light Peak, the report noted.
For all its flaws, Light Peak does shine a beacon on low-cost, short-range optical interconnects many see as the long term future.
"The thing that excites me most is the move to low-cost optics--that’s a big win for the industry," said the engineer. "I don't think Light Peak is the answer, but it creates a vehicle to get people to think about low-cost optics," he said.
Intel has indicated it sees a road map for Light Peak extended to 50 and even 100 Gbit/s links.
One of the big opportunities is in shifting away from a focus on the telecom market which requires long distance optics to a computer market happy with short-range parts.
"When you shorten range requirements to 10-30 meters, the number of VCSELs that pass the qualification test skyrockets and the yield rate is huge," said the engineer, referring to vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, a popular laser diode.
"There's a market for these shorter distance optics at lower costs," said the engineer. "I see over the next five years a transition from copper to optics in server and storage systems and eventually consumer products," he added.